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3. Current Research on Dual Language Education Programs


Learn the research foundation for dual language programs to ensure that the dual language program that the district selects aligns with the models that have the best academic and biliteracy results.


There is a growing corpus of research on dual language programs. Becoming knowledgeable of the seminal studies will be important for district and site leadership, as well as for all the members of the Leadership Team. Making sure that the dual language program selected aligns with the research will be important in the districts' campaign to garner support from all stakeholder groups.

Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)

Perhaps the most important document to guide the development of a dual language program is the "Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education," which is available through the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) in Washington, DC. Synthesizing all the research on dual language programs, it provides a reflection rubric that can be used to guide the program development for new programs and to support the strengthening of existing programs.

Howard, E. R., Lindholm-Leary, K. J., Sugarman, J., Christian, D., & Rogers, D. (2007). Guiding principles for dual language education. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics. Available at http://schools.4j.lane.edu/buenavista/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Guiding_Principles.pdf

CAL also has a "Two-Way Immersion Toolkit" for districts and sites that are considering implementing a dual language education program: http://www.cal.org/twi/toolkit/index.htm

There are many other resources available on the CAL website for dual language programs. http://www.cal.org/areas-of-impact/english-learners/bilingual-and-dual-language-education

There is also a national two-way immersion directory available. It is a self-reporting website, which means that the directory is not exhaustive: http://www.cal.org/twi/directory/

Collier and Thomas

The research of Virginia Collier and Wayne Thomas on dual language education is perhaps the most well-known across the United States (http://www.thomasandcollier.com/). Their longitudinal studies of student achievement in various types of educational programs for English Learners are considered seminal work in the field, and the graph of their findings is often used by districts as the rationale for starting a dual language program in their district:

English Learners' Long-Term Achievement by Program Model

English Learners Long-Term Achievement by Program Model Chart

Collier and Thomas have published many articles and books on dual language education. Below are just a few of their works:

Collier, V., & Thomas, W. (2004). The Astounding Effectiveness of Dual Language Education for All. NABE Journal of Research and Practice, 2(1) 1-20. Available at http://www.berkeleyschools.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/TWIAstounding_Effectiveness_Dual_Language_Ed.pdf?864d7e
Thomas, W. P., & Collier, V. P. (2002). A national study of school effectiveness for language minority students' long-term academic achievement.
Thomas, W. P., & Collier, V. P. (2012). Dual language education for a transformed world. Dual Language Education of New Mexico/Fuente Press.

The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)

The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota (http://carla.umn.edu) has many resources for dual language programs, including research reports. It's Immersion Education and Research unit is led by Tara Fortune. Here are two of her works that may be of interest:

Fortune, T. W. (2012). What the research says about immersion. Chinese language learning in the early grades: A handbook for resources and best practices for Mandarin immersion, 9-13. Available at http://carla.umn.edu/immersion/documents/ImmersionResearch_Fortune.pdf
Tedick, D. J., Christian, D., & Fortune, T. W. (Eds.). (2011). Immersion education: Practices, policies, possibilities (Vol. 83). Multilingual Matters.


The research of Kathryn Lindholm-Leary is also frequently cited in support of dual language education programs (http://www.lindholm-leary.com/). Her work has included program evaluation for many dual language programs in the United States. Here are just a few of her works that may be useful:

Lindholm-Leary, K. (2000). Biliteracy for a Global Society: An Idea Book on Dual Language Education.
Lindholm-Leary, K., & Adelson-Rodriguez, N. (2015). Research & Resources for English Learner Achievement. STARlight, 12. downloaded from http://www.elresearch.org/downloads/12/Starlight_NRodriguez_English_BW.pdf
Lindholm-Leary, K., & Hernández, A. (2011). Achievement and language proficiency of Latino students in dual language programmes: Native English speakers, fluent English/previous ELLs, and current ELLs. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 32(6), 531-545.

There are many other sources of research on dual language education programs, often embedded in works that focus on English Learner education. These sources can be found at some of the following websites:

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